Spain_mapCapital: Madrid
Population: 48.1 million (July 2015 est.) 
GDP: €1.291 tillion (2014)
GDP/capita: €31,029 (2014) 

Fish production:
Capture: 1,108,830 tonnes live weight (2014, Eurostat)
   Aquaculture: 226,000 tonnes live weight (2013, Eurostat)
   Export value: € 2.9 billion (2013, Eurostat)
   Import value: € 4.7 billion (2013, Eurostat)

Overview of the Spanish fisheries and aquaculture sector (Currently under review)

The Spanish fishing fleet is made up of around 13 000 vessels, the 3rd largest in the EU with Galicia representing almost 50% of all vessels followed by Andalusia (ca. 15%), Catalonia and the Canary Islands (both with ca. 9%). In terms of value, the most important fish species are tuna, albacore, and needlefish followed by coastal fish; cod, hake, herring, sardines, and  anchovies. Crustaceans and molluscs consisting of prawns, shrimp, squid, cuttlefish, and octopus are ranked third. Fishing provides employment to roughly 41 500 people (0.24% of the total employed in Spain) but maintains an unemployment rate of 7.2%, well below the average of the Spanish economy (24.63%, registered in the second quarter of 2012).

In 2013, the Spanish farming of marine fish and seafood amounted to approximately 253,000 tonnes from species including mussels, turbot, seabass, seabream and sole. In addition, the freshwater fish sector contributed approximately 10,000 tonnes; rainbow trout and small volumes of eel and sturgeons are key species. Molluscs, and in particularly mussels, are the largest category of the total Spanish farmed production, accounting for 210,000 tonnes. More than 95% of Spanish mussels’ production is carried out in the coast of Galicia, a region located in the far North-Western corner of the Iberian Peninsula. The coastline is 1,200 km long, and mussels are cultivated in the coastal inlets by means of floating rafts in the five bays – Vigo, Ponteverda, Arousa, Muros and Ares. Galician mussels are famous for their quality, which is determined by a combination of factors, such as warm water temperature, high amounts of nutrients in the water and geographical location in the protected areas of the ocean of the bays with resistance to the unpredictable maritime weather. With its production level of over 200,000 tonnes, the Galician mussel industry is one of the largest seafood production sectors in the world, generating over 8,000 jobs and incorporating 1,000 aquaculture support vessels. “Galician Mussels Protected designation of Origin” is currently the only aquaculture designation of origin in Spain.    

Spain is home to the largest fish processing industry in Europe, with a turnover of EUR 3.9 billion in 2012. Historically, it was focused on salted and canned fish and shellfish due to the large size of the country. However, since the 1950s, it has become one of the most diverse and large industries internationally. . The industry is mainly composed of medium sized companies mostly in the canning sector and to a lesser extent by frozen and fresh processed seafood. The canning sector has a production volume of 348,000 tonnes and a value of nearly EUR 2 billion, and is the most important in the Spanish fish processing industry. Tuna is the most important species in the national fish canning sector, amounting to 241,500 tonnes, while other key species include sardines and anchovies. In the past few years, the Spanish fish processing sector followed the development of mixed trends due to economic constrains in the country, but the national canning industry has kept its production of artisanal fish and seafood products, both for domestic and international markets, acquiring niche markets and premium-prices.  

Considering the large capacity of the Spanish fish and seafood market and coverage of its consumption needs, Spain highly relays on imports (predominately from third countries); meanwhile, the country is also a large exporter, mainly to the EU, which absorbs two thirds of Spanish exports.

In 2013 Spain imported ca. 1.5 million tonnes of seafood for a value close to EUR 5 billion, 1.3% less (in volume) and 2.9% less (in value) than a year before. Spanish exports also fell in relation to those in 2012, by 2.6% in value and 4.5% in volume. Shipments abroad decreased from over 1 million tonnes and ca. EUR 3 billion (2012) to 0.9 million tonnes and EUR 2.9 billion. As regards the product categories, frozen, and prepared and canned fish, were two of the most important categories exported by Spain, representing 46% of the country’s total exports (in value). Frozen fish was exported mostly to third countries (ca. 65%). Yellowfin tuna was the top exported species, mostly to Mauritius and Seychelles, for manufacturing purposes. Whereas in the prepared and canned fish segment, 90% was sent to the EU Member States, which was mainly represented by canned tuna for which the largest markets were Italy and the UK.  Both frozen, and prepared and canned fish exports decreased in value in 2013, with -5.0% and 1,6%, respectively.

Spain imports were predominantly composed of crustaceans and molluscs and cephalopods, which made up to 40% in value of the total fisheries and seafood imports. In 2013, crustaceans imports increased slightly (1,6%), while molluscs and cephalopods decreased remarkably (-15.9%). The increase of crustaceans imports was mainly due to higher value of shrimp originating from Argentina and Ecuador, the most important species in this group. Whereas for the category of molluscs/cephalopod, the decrease was triggered mainly by lower values of squid and cuttlefish species that Spain imported from Morocco.

Spain is one of the largest markets for fish and seafood in Europe. Spanish consumers greatly appreciate fish and seafood, and for many years Spain has had the second largest annual fish and seafood consumption per capita (42.9 per kg) in Europe after Portugal (61.1 kg per capita). More than a half of the fish and seafood volume consumed by Spaniards happens at home, according to a study on at-home seafood consumption, carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Spain. In particular, fish and seafood consumption in Spanish households increased by 1.8% during 2013, with an average volume of 26.8 kg per capita. Spanish consumers spent 13.12% of their budget of the food basket on purchases of fish and seafood, the equivalent of EUR 200 per person per year, an increase of 4% compared to 2012. The areas with the most frequent at-home consumption of fish were the autonomous regions Castilla Leon, Galicia and Asturias.

Other publications on Spain

Useful Links for Spain


MAGRAMA  - Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment
Conxemar - Spanish Association of Wholesalers, Importers, Manufacturers and Exporters of Fish products and Aquaculture
Spanish Oceanographic Institute


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